You might have noticed that over time, your computer might not be running as fast as it did a few years ago. That isn’t to say that you need a new one. Instead, you might be neglecting some basic maintenance to keep your computer running at full speed.
Here’s a quick list of proactive steps you can take to maintain your computer and extend its life.
Get Antivirus Protection
Safeguarding your computer from viruses and malware is much easier than trying to scrub an infection from your harddrive. While there are plenty of options out there, we’ve already curated a list of some of the best paid and free antivirus programs available. No matter which option you choose, make sure to schedule daily scans (ideally at night while you’re asleep) and keep your versions up-to-date to get the most out of your antivirus protection.
Defragment or Optimize Your Hard Drives Regularly
Files are constantly being opened and closed on your computer which starts to wear them down over time. Sometimes computers make mistakes and not all of the bits (the small parts that make up data) make it back to where they should be. Defragmentation is a process where a program scans your harddrive and makes sure all your files and the bits that comprise them are exactly where they belong. While you should do this at least monthly, defragmentation helps speed up your computer and combats against file corruption.
Though Windows 10 has its own defragmentation application, Auslogics’ Disk Defrag is a great third-party option that gives you more control and analytics for those who prefer something more robust.
A word of caution if you have a solid state drive (or SSD): NEVER DEFRAGMENT THEM. Instead, most current software includes an “optimize” option that is used to clean up SSDs. Because an SSD and the traditional HDD store data differently, forcing defragmentation on an SSD can wreak havoc on its longevity.
Clean Your Computer’s Registry and Remove Junk Files
Every computer has a registry that stores information from CD and program keys for software validation to settings and other values for both applications and hardware hooked up to your computer. Just as using files themselves can wear them down, installing, uninstalling, and reinstalling software can leave junk information left over in the registry. While relatively harmless, the more junk there is, the slower your computer becomes since it has more to sift through to find what it’s looking for.
While some antivirus suites include a registry cleaner, Piriform’s CCleaner is a wonderful standalone option that not only cleans your registry but also removes any cookies or extra junk left over in Internet browsers, your Recycling bin, and other areas you might forget about. This should be done on a weekly basis.
Blow Away Any Dust Around and Inside the Computer
Even if your computer’s software is working fine, making sure the hardware isn’t gunked up with dust and pet hair is crucial to its health. By turning off and unplugging your computer, rest it on a hard surface (soft surfaces like carpet can cause static discharge) and either blow the dust out with a can of compressed air or use a vacuum with a hose attachment. Pay close attention to fans both inside and along the case. Dusting should be done minimally every six months, though more if you have pets or the computer is in an especially dusty room.
If you’re uncomfortable doing this yourself, plenty of computer repair and maintenance shops are happy to do it for you.